Christmas 2011

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Above: Isaac gives a knitted Santa a cuddle a few days before Christmas.

Christmas Eve

“I was very surprised that you agreed to preach at the midnight mass,” said Jane on Christmas Eve, “after you’d said last year that you were going to take a year off this year.”

“Did I say that?” I asked.

Apparently so, but I’m glad that I had forgotten because the midnight service at All Saints’, St Andrews was beautiful. The nave (where the congregation sits) was in darkness, lit by hand-held candles, there was a procession during which the baby Jesus was placed in the crib, which was then blessed. The choir was small but enthusiastic; and daring (In dulce jubilo in German). My sermon was warmly received, with another member of the clergy team saying to me afterwards that he thought that it was “spot on”, which I found encouraging.

I drove back to Anstruther around a quarter past one, glowing and thanking God. While I was waiting for the toast to pop-up at home I tweeted:

Fabulous midnight mass at All Saints, St Andrews. The good news of Jesus preached. Feeling very blessed. Happy Christmas one and all. x

I retired to bed for about four-and-a-half hours.

Christmas Day

The drive to Selkirk wasn’t quite as I had planned; particularly the 30 mph winds. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared while driving. The Forth Road Bridge was closed to high sided vehicles, buses, cars with trailers, caravans, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians: pretty much everybody apart from us. I crept across the almost deserted bridge at 30 mph, driving mostly down the line between the lanes.

Just south of Edinburgh, at Newtongrange we discovered that Isaac had a very dodgy tummy. And that we’d forgotten to pack a change of clothes. He turned up to St John’s in Selkirk wearing his pyjamas: a George Pig (Peppa’s brother) fleecy sleep suit. Very sweet.

Jane stayed at my Mum’s to prepare Christmas lunch while the rest of us (minus Reuben, who wanted to stay with Mummy) went to church.

We had Christmas lunch round a wallpaper-pasting table covered in a table cloth, which was a great idea and fit the space perfectly. Jane’s lunch was cooked to perfection—even the parsnips in honey and mustard which always go wrong for us.

Before and after lunch presents were opened, mostly by Reuben and Joshua regardless of whose name was on the label—they were so excited, it was great. And all too soon we were packing up bags and boxes and loading up the car again for the equally-windy drive back to Fife.

Once back home the boys all transferred effortlessly (and for us thankfully) from the car to their beds. We unpacked the car, reheated some Christmas dinner and crashed out in front of the telly to watch the season finalé of Merlin that we’d recorded from the night before.

Then bed.

Boxing Day

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Above: Joshua (left) and Reuben rip open a present on Boxing Day morning.

This was our stay-at-home day, with the majority of Reuben, Joshua and Isaac’s presents still to open. It was nice to stretch out their presents over the last two days rather than overwhelming them with everything all at once.

Jane had picked up a big box of action figures: underwater, mountain, space, etc. which you can see Reuben and Joshua opening in the photograph above. They have loved playing with them all day. At one point they were both lying on top of the dining room table totally engrossed in their play: fabulous!

It was also a tired day, as the busyness of the last few days caught up with us. Jane crashed out on the sofa around mid-day; I went for a sleep mid-afternoon; Reuben fell asleep on the armchair just before dinner.

That said, bedtime still took about three-and-a-half hours. And everybody wanted Mummy to put them to bed.

And to be honest, that’s where I should be now, so I’m going to be uncharacteristically sensible and catch up with as much sleep as I can get. That is, after all, the only thing that I asked for for Christmas: a sleep.

Night, night! And Happy Christmas!

Creating a new 2012 diary for Jane

Diary 2012 - work-in-progress
Jane’s new diary for 2012 – work in progress

Jane’s been looking for a diary for 2012.

She wants one that allows her to see a week at a glance, with separate columns for each of the family members, separated into blocks for morning, afternoon and evening activities.

There are similar diaries available, but none that also have photographs of our family within the pages. Or our key phone numbers printed on the inside cover.

So I’m making one for her, and will get it printed at Lulu, or similar. It should cost around £10.

The image above is work-in-progress; I’m using Microsoft Publisher 2010 and Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3.

Will – trailer for my cousin’s new film

In 2005 my American cousin Zack sent me a draft screenplay for a film he and his girlfriend were working on. In short, it was about a football-crazy schoolboy, Will, who travels half-way across Europe to watch the cup final in which his favourite team are playing.

Well, the film has now been made and that’s the trailer for it (above)!

I still have the two early drafts of the screenplay which Zack sent me to see if was British enough, and to enable me to do some research for the film, which was great fun to do!

Jane and I caught up with Zack last year in London just as filming was about to begin. Casting had just finished with Damien Lewis (Band of Brothers, Life, Dreamcatcher, etc.) and Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hook, Brazil, etc.) taking lead roles.

I just heard today that the film—now called simply Will—will be screening at the Cannes Film Market (Marché du Film) this week.

Good luck Zack, we’ll be thinking of you.

Highlights of a sunny day

Reuben and Joshua throwing stones into a rock pool

Today has been a lovely, if exhausting day packed with friends, family and a lot of laughs. A few highlights:

  • Waking up at 06:30 and spending an hour in the cuddly company of a very smiley Isaac.
  • Washing the car with Reuben and Joshua. There I was on my knees washing a wheel when all of a sudden Reuben’s face appeared round the car. “He he he he!” he laughed before soaking me in the face with the hose.
  • Joshua finished washing the gas meter box (a project instigated at his own initiative), stood back and said “Well, that looks lovely!”
  • A walk to the pig farm to the east of Cellardyke with Reuben, Joshua, Isaac, Jane and friends Joy and Dusty, during which Reuben and Joshua spent most of their time throwing stones into a rock pool (see photo above).
  • Dinner and chat with friends.

I love my children, my wife and my friends. I’d better get to bed: I’m on child-minding duties tomorrow morning again.

Getting ready for Baby 3.0

I took a holiday this week so that we could focus on getting the house ready for Baby 3.0 who is due to be born sometime after 20 January 2011.  We didn’t want to get to the end of December and suddenly panic that we’d not done anything.

We had three big tasks:

  1. Buy a bigger car.
  2. Buy some furniture for Baby 3.0’s bedroom..
  3. Drive to Dunoon to collect a cot from Jane’s sister.

It’s now Tuesday evening and we’ve completed all three tasks.  How efficient are we?!

1. Buy a bigger car

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
Citroën Grand C4 Picasso (photo from AllWorldCars.com)

We currently own a Vauxhall Vectra Estate.  It’s a massive car.  It’s black and it looks like a hearse.  It’s great for getting Reuben and Joshua’s car seats into and the boot is the size of a small country which makes it perfect for carrying the Baby Jogger double pushchair.  But it’s not big enough to carry another baby seat.

What we need now is a Compact MPV and from what we’ve read and tried out already we’re going to need a 7-seater in order to accommodate three children under three years old, a double buggy, and whatever luggage we also need to cart about with us.

So, armed with research-she’d-done-on-the-internet Jane went out on Saturday afternoon with Joshua to check out a couple of car showrooms in Dundee, while Reuben and I stayed at home and played with cars.  Toy cars, that is.

On Sunday afternoon Jane took me to see a light blue Ford S-Max.  It was lovely, the test drive was fun and the price was about £3,000 too high.  So we walked away but with details of a similar model in Armadale.

On Monday afternoon we drove away from Armadale having bought a Citroën Grand C4 Picasso that we’d test driven.  It looks like a nice car, it’s practical, it’s the right size and it was also the right price.   By trading in the Vectra we’ll also get about £500 back which can’t be bad.

I also discovered that the car salesman had lived in my hometown of Selkirk during the 1980s.

2. Buy some furniture for Baby 3.0’s bedroom.

Wardrobe and chest of drawers
Wardrobe and chest of drawers in Baby #3’s room

Ikea was wonderfully deserted late on Monday afternoon We were in and out in no time, and managed to get out without buying something that wasn’t on our shopping list.  Not even a bag of Daim bars.

I built the furniture today while Jane …

3. Drive to Dunoon to collect a cot from Jane’s sister.

… drove to Dunoon to collect a cot from her sister.  In fact, she’s just got back so I’ll go and say hello.  I’ll unpack the car in the morning.